Episode 26 Review
Young Justice: Phantoms
The finale of Young Justice: Phantoms brings the season to a cheerful, satisfying conclusion yet still leaves a lot of doors open to give our heroes headaches in the future. All the trial and tribulation wrought by everyone's favorite time traveler to hate, Lor-Zod, comes to a head and ultimately, the galaxy is spared of another megalomaniac and his warped vision of order and the timeline is restored to its proper state. Mostly. 99.84 percent proper.
Dru-Zod shares his theory that Jor-El chose Earth for his son to be raised in anonymity before he rose up as a god, rule the world, and raise it to galactic supremacy but he failed. Zod vows to succeed in his place and declares he will rechristen Earth as "New Krypton" in the blood of their failed savior, Superman. Five minutes prior, Nightwing finds the crash site outside the Fortress of Solitude but learns it was an illusion drawn up by Miss Martian and Saturn Girl after Superman and Orion took the brunt of the Eye of Ekron's blast. Nightwing admits to faking a fatal injury by cutting his own forehead then slowing his pulse to trick Lor-Zod into thinking he died. Miss Martian fills him on what happened to her. Nightwing admits to stupidly bring Kryptonite with him to the Phantom Zone then informs her that Rocket didn't make it. Miss Martian is distraught but tries to focus on the problems at hand, telling him the Kryptonians boomed to Metropolis, where Tigress, Zatanna, and Aquaman just radioed him from. Baby arrives in the nick of time having heard the psychic scream of Bio-Ship when it was hit.
Dru-Zod orders Conner to kill Superman but he still remembers the good memories and can't bring himself to do it. Kid Flash arrives and snatches the Kryptonite away then Lor-Zod is rear ended by the glamour hidden magic school bus. Baby flies through the Eastern Seaboard. Nightwing emphasizes they have to stop the Kryptonians before sunrise or their cells will charge up fast. He addresses the white elephant in the room and tells Miss Martian she can't hold back her powers. The Eye of Ekron blows up the bus and Dru has a Boom Tube to the Phantom Zone opened. Non and Faora come through. She informs Dru the others are gathering his army as they speak. Tigress creates a diversion with an exploding arrow, Zatanna neutralizes Ma'alefa'ak with a ring of fire, and Aquaman snatches the Mother Thrall with a water dragon construct and pulls it down into the sewers. The tube is shut down. Kid Flash saves Tigress from Lor-Zod but fails to snatch the Eye. Aquaman attacks Dru but gets bumped by Conner. Danny Chase is restored but Ma'alefa'ak mind blasts Zatanna and attempts to take back control of the Thrall. Baby opens fire. Nightwing and Tigress tango with Non, Phantom Girl asks Chameleon Boy to keep Ma'alefa'ak busy. He obliges and turns into a Ma'alefa'ak beast as does the Martian. Lor uses his enhanced vision to pinpoint Baby and uses his heat vision. Miss Martian appears before Conner and restores his mind to normal. Aquaman takes a beating from Dru. Nightwing is prompted to evaluate. He orders Miss Martian to run interference and Zatanna to help Superman while he and Tigress handle Non and Aquaman keeps Dru occupied. Miss Martian sends a motorbike towards Ursa's back but the Eye blows it up. Zatanna casts a spell to remove the Kryptonite poisoning from Superman. Lor tosses Baby into a building. Superman and Conner take on Dru and Lor-Zod. Ursa gives Miss Martian little choice and she goes full on against Ursa. She loses her Empress costume and passes out while the Eye powers down. Saturn Girl comes to Danny's aid just as the distracted Ma'alefa'ak is phased through the pavement halfway by Phantom Girl. Danny drop kicks Ma'alefa'ak out of his mind. Superman and Conner fallback to their strength, fighting in sync. Miss Martian puts a mental whammy on Lor.
Danny opens a Boom Tube. Nightwing and Tigress use the West Maneuver to trip up Non back into the Zone. Faora is about to attack them but she's encased in a force bubble. Rocket is back via Time Sphere. She dumps Faora down the tube. Ma'alefa'ak is blasted into the tube by Danny. Superman and Conner slugs Dru into the tube. Ursa is surrounded by everyone but the Eye comes to and flees the planet with her despite her protests. Lor runs for the Time Sphere and teleports away. Flash, Flash, Kid Flash, Blue Beetle, Shazam, Red Tornado, Black Canary, and Wonder Girl arrive and are shocked to see Superboy is alive. The Legion are distraught that Lor is still on the loose with a Time Sphere and thus, are right back where they started. They all watch as the sun rises.
Later that day, Lois and Clark explain to Jonny that Conner is alive and they made a mistake telling him his uncle passed away. They watch Conner and M'gann's wedding announcement video. On September 16, 16:16 EDT, last minutes preparations are on hand at Snapper Carr's property in Happy Harbor. J'ann and M'att M'orzz arrive from M'arzz by Zeta Tube and are greeted by Em'ree who reveals she is going back to being called M'ree. Black Canary takes a moment to talk to the other Leaguers present about setting up a sanctuary for their allies to deal with their mental trauma. Bear and Dreamer arrive via Boom Tube. The former gives the Foragers a big bear hug. More from the Outsiders and the Team arrive by Zeta. Garfield and Perdita talk. She is happy for him and emphasizes she will always love and care about him but she has moved on and thinks he should, too. Clark and Conner's limo pulls up. Conner is sporting a shaved head. Kaldur'ahm brings up the Kryptonians should still be given parole. Chameleon Boy disagrees and tells them how they conquered his home world Durla in his era 10 years after being released from the Phantom Zone. Clark brings up the uninhabited Trombus. Orion agrees with it as it has a red sun, has no sentient life, and has no technology. Rocket adds the Justice League, New Gods, and Green Lantern Corps can monitor them.
Ultra-Humanite briefs Vandal Savage in Warworld. Klarion has successfully hunted and captured all Kryptonians in the Phantom Zone and are held in stasis like Mongul, Despero, and Starro. Ultra notes Klarion seemed to enjoy it then reports Apokolips only required one Kryptonian for tribute and Ma'alefa'ak. Klarion warps Apokolips out of the Phantom Zone. Grayven booms Ma'alefa'ak to a pristine world set aside for the A'ashenn as promised for the work he did in Darkseid's name. Ma'alefa'ak accepts and asks if it has a name. It is Durla. More from the Team and Outsiders arrive at the wedding. Rocket explains to Orion that she was saved by Metron of all people and ended up in his Mobius Dimension then suspiciously offered a repaired Time Sphere as gratitude for her past service. She adds it was also some experiment he was running. Orion recognizes that as Metron then asks how she knew how to operate the sphere. She reveals Metron preset the coordinates for her to take her to Metropolis right on time. She regrets letting Lor-Zod escape with it.
In transit, Lor-Zod realizes the controls are locked. He winds up in Ma'aleca'andra on March 25 six months prior at the moment Superboy was supposed to be killed by the Gene Bomb. He interprets it as one last opportunity to kill Superboy. He exits the Sphere but is shocked to see it teleport away. Phantom Girl phases away with Superboy while he is distracted. He is completed obliterated by the explosion. The Sphere returns to the Mobius Dimension. Metron is pleased with himself. In space, Ursa vows to raise her child to wreck vengeance for the House of Zod. She and the Eye approach Daxam. Back at the wedding, Chameleon Boy is still chaffing about the time stream. Kid Flash advises him to start acclimating. He is interrupted by the arrival of a Time Sphere. Brainiac-5 steps out to bring his three comrades back home. He reveals he has calculated a 99.84 percent likelihood the timeline has been substantially restored. Chameleon Boy naturally focuses on the .16 percent. They head into the sphere but Conner asks them to wait. Phantom Girl reminds him it is long past due for them to return home but wishes him and M'gann their best and to have a wonderful wedding and life. Conner recalls they never told him why he was so important to the time stream. Saturn Girl teases he'll see. The sphere teleports away. He looks to Clark, who refuses to comment. M'gann's limo arrives. Everyone takes their seats.
Marvin White frets he was the only one who didn't know all his friends were superheroes only because everyone thought he knew. He is shushed by Mal Duncan, Wendy Harris, and Icicle Jr. (who is already choked up). M'gann steps out of the limo that was really Baby. She walks up to the stage then levitates up. Snapper officiates and cognizant the next super villain attack could be imminent, goes right to the exchange of vows and rings. Jonny runs up with both rings in his closed hands. Conner and M'gann exchange vows, centering on how the other taught them what true love is, and promise to love, honor, and cherish each other for all eternity. Snapper pronounces them husband and wife. They kiss. The pets take a rest while everyone dances. Offscreen, M'gann tosses her bouquet and Snapper rolls with Icicle Jr. catching it instead of a single woman. He asks everyone to clear the dance floor for the couple's first dance as husband and wife but he retracts his request as they levitate 16 feet up and dance in mid-air. He is speechless at the sight of a Trogowog running off with a bouquet.
On Apokolips, Grayven introduces Granny Goodness's two newest recruits to Darkseid. The first is Mary Bromfield, now going by Black Mary. The second is the Kryptonian turned over to Apokolips by the Light as tribute, Kara Zor-El the Supergirl. Grayven calls them the next generation of Furies, ready to take the battle to the so-called heroes who betrayed them. Darkseid is pleased.
Between Nightwing and Rocket, the explanation of how the former isn't dead will ultimately be divisive among the fans. On one hand, if you've been watching Young Justice from day one or really anything in the spy genre, you'll know that Nightwing wasn't dead and they were going to do a quick reveal at the start of the season finale. The genre lives on what perspective the audience gets. We didn't see Nightwing's improv to cut his forehead. A lot like last season's Batman can long distance lip read Deathstroke, we learn after the fact that Nightwing knows how to slow his heart rate. Same with Saturn Girl and Miss Martian pulling off the illusion in time thanks to the former knowing the Emerald Eye of Ekron. And being able to fool even Ma'alefa'ak, who supposedly improved himself between seasons to rival Miss Martian. All these terrible things happening in succession in the penultimate episode of the season? Of course, they're okay. However, on the other hand, pressing rewind on the scene to five minutes ago then doing a quick info dump to recap things and in-universe for Nightwing and Miss Martian to catch up to each other's arcs does come off clunky and a necessary evil to propel the episode into the big fight, end said fight, enough time for a conclusion we've been all been waiting for for almost 12 years, Conner and M'gann getting married, and then of course close the episode and season with an update on Vandal and Darkseid's game of space chess with a shocker. We had a rug pulled out from under us already with the reveal way later into the season that Phantom Girl somehow got to Conner in time and they were accidentally phased to the Phantom Zone rather than someone from the original Team being killed off again So on that other hand, it can feel like the audience was duped again and it cheapens the producers' stance on death is permanent in lieu of Wally West's death in season 2.
While you might have mixed feelings on the first 5 minutes of the episode, the pay off is a wonderfully entertaining final battle in Metropolis with the clock ticking to end it before sunrise. We see what the original Team does best, fight together in unison against seemingly insurmountable odds sprinkled with big moments we've been chomping at the bit to see happen: Miss Martian restores Superboy, Kaldur gets snippy, Superman is saved, House of El vs. House of Zod, Miss Martian cuts loose with her full power, Ma'alefa'ak getting his comeuppance, a callback like the West Maneuver, and the other heroes amusingly showing up late to the party. And the cherry on top after the big fight was the big wedding. After two painful and bittersweet season finales in a row for the heroes, it was a welcome change of pace for them to go out this season on a happy and celebratory note. Conner and M'gann are back together again and more importantly, finally married and the milestone is shared with those closest to them. And Icicle Jr. as well, ha!
In retrospect, it was there in broad strokes but once Dru-Zod gave his speech to the world at the beginning of the episode I could see he eerily has the same goal as Vandal Savage: elevating their chosen home world to reign supreme in the galaxy. And Vandal can't have a usurper and his army all complete with Superman's powers running around. The majority of them being back in the Phantom Zone wasn't enough for him and he locks every single one of them in the Warworld stasis chambers, well except Ursa and Kara. With a person as dangerous as Ursa, both a Kryptonian and current Emerald Empress, you would think the Light or Apokolips will try to take her off the board as well. But back to Vandal, he doesn't necessarily have an outright win but he preserves status quo in a way with keeping the House of Zod on ice. Darkseid is the one who gains some ground this season. The Justice League has the Team, the Outsiders, and soon to be a reserve system. The Light has their puppet state of Markovia farming up a metahuman army. Darkseid is expanding his own teen army with the addition of Black Mary and Supergirl to his Furies. As frustrating as it was to see Ma'alefa'ak being spared banishment to the Phantom Zone, the implications of him being given the planet Durla as a new home for the A'asheenn and the question of how that leads to the shape shifting Durlan race in the 31st century is intriguing. At least he was doing it for his people and wasn't doing it just for another gene bomb. Lastly, Lor-Zod. Boy what a bastard. He was the one to truly despise and hate. And man, did he get what was coming to him! Don't mess with Metron, I think is the lesson here? It was genuinely a full circle moment for the season, figuratively and literally. Killed off in the moment that set things off this season and rewarding our skills of deduction when it came to if we believed that was Conner's ash shadow or not. However, in a Young Justice way, this only the last we'll see of this version of Lor-Zod. How this second version of Lor-Zod will turn out in a "single parent household," we shall see.
The episodes had another great assortment of callbacks and references. Aside from the recaps of this season's arc, it was rewarding to see what Conner remembers this time around. We got to see for the first time how he met Jonathan and Martha Kent and how he met Jonny then the lingering question of what does he see when Miss Martian tries to restore him to normal again? Some were obvious, others a bit more deep cut. Definitely counted on them meeting at the end of "Fireworks," their moment in the kitchen in "Downside," the kiss in "Auld Acquaintance", their chat at the end of "Endgame," the proposal in "Princes All," others made sense from this season the levitating dance in "Needful," and the kiss under the altar in Ma'ayava'ana Ma'ak at the end of "Volatile" and lastly, the 'oh yeah, those are some good choices' goes to the blush mid-mission around the 9:07 mark in "Drop Zone" when Superboy compliments her role in the Mister Twister incident, the big kiss in "Terrors", and Artemis filling Wally in about them in "Coldhearted." Other notable callbacks were Chameleon Boy shouting he wanted a rematch in reference to losing to Ma'alefa'ak in "Beyond the Grip of the Gods!", the West Maneuver, and Clark and Lois having to amend what they told Jonny in "I Know Why the Caged Cat Sings."
The coolest DC reference of the episode? Well, hands down it has to be Conner adopting the shaved head look that he kinda had for a bit or Black Canary's idea has got to be alluding to Sanctuary from 2018's Heroes in Crisis, a mental health facility set up for the Justice League in Nebraska. Plus, the debut of Durla and Ursa ended up going to Daxam for sanctuary of her own. The doozies, of course, were the debut of Mary's Black Mary phase from the comics and first appearance of Kara Zor-El after some references to her mid-season and now appears to be inspired by the Superman/Batman origin story. And of course, can't end it without torturing fans by making them listen real hard for new designations to be revealed for the first time. M'gann and M'ree's parents are 55 and 56 in the A series, Dubbilex and Kraig are 18 and 19 in the E series (yeah, another new series - the Justice League Reserves I wager - and 14 unknowns off the bat), Brucely is 03 in the C-series, Looker is D-16, Mist is B-37, Orphan's B 36, confirmation Barbara is still part of the Team as B-16 but as Oracle, Guardian/Jim is E-16, Tempest is E-03, Wyynde is E-15, and the little stunner that Aquaman/La'gann's designation is 45, hinting the League is a bit bigger that we thought and there's about 4 members we don't know about.
The finale of Young Justice: Phantoms begins with a time honored gotcha exposition that veteran fans of the series or the spy genre should expect by now and despite that will likely still get some squabbling from naysayers out there BUT it ends strong with a thrilling action packed final battle and a truly happy ending for our heroes for once. The open ended nature of this season's finale is not enough to dampen what felt like the most satisfying conclusion in the series' history so far. But the war continues. So about that renewal, HBO Max...
Rating: 4.5 out of 5